• Brad Binder is back in South Africa after a tough MotoGP season.
• Binder highlights his 2021 challenges and how he and team will look to improve the bike for next year.
• In 2022, Binder's brother Darryn will join him in MotoGP.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24
South African Red Bull KTM Rider Brad Binder has had a great year in the MotoGP championship, claiming sixth place and a spectacular win in the wet in Austria.
The future is exciting for Binder, who has extended his partnership with the Red Bull KTM team until 2024. Next year will see Brad Binder joined by brother Darryn on the MotoGP grid, which should provide an extra dose of excitement for South African motorcycle race fans come race day.
Wheels24 sat down with the Red Bull KTM rider during his December break back home in South Africa.
Wheels24: How do you feel about your performance during the 2021 season?
Brad Binder: My highlight of the year was definitely my win in Austria. It was fantastic to win the KTM and Red Bull home race. To walk away at the end of the season with sixth in the championship was great; it is my best MotoGP season result so far. Obviously, I want more for myself and the team, but we made really good improvements. I was really consistent and finished all the races but one.
W24: The end of 2021 saw the retirement of Valentino Rossi. Will he be missed in the paddock?
BB: Rossi is a legend of the sport, and it is sad to see him go. It has been an honour to race against Valentino during the last couple of years. We have had some good battles on track, and not many people can say they raced against Rossi.
W24: What are you and your team looking forward to improving during the off-season?
BB: There are two main areas where we can find time. We are really struggling with rear grip out of the corners, and in the wheelie zones, we are wheeling a bit too much and not getting as much power down on the ground as we need to.
Midway through the year, we made huge steps to get the bike to turn in, thanks mostly to the new frame. We were really excited heading into the second half of the year, but three or four tracks hid our grip issues very well due to their open and flowing nature and their lack of low-speed areas followed by big acceleration zones. So it was only later on in the year that we realised that we had a rear grip problem. We could work around it and improve things, but we haven't entirely solved our issues.
The racing is so tight in MotoGP at the moment; if we can find a couple of tenths per lap, we will be fighting for the podium every weekend.
If we take everything we have learnt this year and maybe combine it with one or two more new parts at the first test, things will hopefully fall into place.
W24: You are a really strong contender come race day, but seem to always struggle during qualifying, which often puts you on the back foot. Do you have a plan in place to improve your qualifying performance?
BB: Yeah, it is a complete mess starting further back because you can not push and do clean laps, and you lose a lot of time that is near impossible to make up.
I have been working a lot on improving my qualifying and being able to put in one strong lap in each session. You really need to understand these bikes very well and how far you can push the tyres before you can really get those last two or three-tenths required to push yourself up the order. We still have a long way to go. Once we can take more advantage of the new tyre, it will help a lot too, but there is some work to be done from my riding side.
On the flip side, I race the same as what I qualify. A lot of guys are much slower in the race than in qualifying, but I can maintain the same pace or very close to the same pace as my qualifying pace, which has been good for me come race day.
W24: 2022 will see your brother Darryn move up to the MotoGP class. Are you looking forward to a bit of sibling rivalry?
BB: It will be really awesome to have Darryn in the class with me, but he has a big job ahead of him. To make the jump from Moto3 to MotoGP is not easy, but he did extremely well at the first test. I am looking forward to having him on the grid with me in 2022. For us, as a family, it is really amazing that we will both be racing in the MotoGP Class now because that is what we have all been working towards.
W24: You and Darryn spend a lot of time with downhill mountain biking legend Greg Minnaar between races. What have you learnt from him?
BB: I believe that you have to have a balance to really perform at your best throughout the season. Greg is a good friend of ours; we live near each other in Andorra when we are over in Europe.
Greg is a really talented guy. It doesn't matter if you put him on a bicycle, a trials bike or a motorbike; he is incredibly good and super fast, and we had a lot of fun this year. I think it is important to train hard and have fun at the same time, and similarly, Greg is the kind of guy who works incredibly hard but knows how to have a good time too.
W24: You finished sixth in the championship this year. What is your goal for 2022?
BB: I hope to be a lot better than sixth. This year I was sixth mid-season and thought this was my opportunity to have a solid end to the year and try to chip my way forward in the standings. Unfortunately, I was always finishing between 5th and 8th in the races, and that's not enough to improve your championship standings. But I am happy with how I approached each weekend and finished most of the races. I am confident that if we can make a small improvement to our package, we can go a long, long way.